The Indian Premier League 2020

Opinion Op Ed 27 Sep 2020 India hates its youn ...

India hates its young women

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | SHEEBANI SETHI
Published Sep 27, 2020, 2:44 pm IST
Updated Sep 27, 2020, 2:47 pm IST
The only male to figure in the current Bollywood drug furore is SSR
Kannada actress Ragini Dwivedi being escorted to an interrogation in Bengaluru. All the film personalities being investigated for drug abuse in Bollywood are women. (PTI)
 Kannada actress Ragini Dwivedi being escorted to an interrogation in Bengaluru. All the film personalities being investigated for drug abuse in Bollywood are women. (PTI)

Predictably, with farmer protests gaining momentum and the parliamentary process in shambles, new names have emerged in the so-called Bollywood drug mafia investigation, and some anchors who had jumped the gun now get to gloat on national TV.

Equally predictably, those named in the drug controversy are young women. Some, conveniently, happen to be middlingly successful ‘nepo kids’. One, a self-made superstar, made a five-minute non-speaking cameo appearance at a den of anti-national 'urban naxals', aka one of the finest universities in India.

 

The only male public figure named so far is SSR, making one wonder if 'Justice For Sushant' means tarnishing his memory and legacy.

India hates its young women.

In a country which ‘worships’ women as goddesses, it is the young girl who invites rape by wearing jeans and eating chow mein, the young woman who invites a (dis)honour killing by daring to love a man of her choice, the young wife who invites domestic violence by not worshiping sufficiently abjectly at the altar of her husband and in-laws.

In a city named after Mumba Devi, a single woman who enters into a romantic relationship is called anything from a whore to a home-wrecker, whilst a man is the innocent victim of her wiles, even when he is married and knowingly cheats. The actor wife is blamed when a cricketer has a bad match. Women who dare to express contrarian opinions are subjected to disgusting trolling and rape threats.

 

A young woman who facilitated the procurement of a negligible amount of weed for her boyfriend is denied bail and continues in jail on the flimsiest of charges, whilst a middle-aged man-child who has admitted to taking pretty much every drug ever invented, is celebrated in a movie in which he is played by a younger man-child. [Out of curiosity, how does one drug a grown man with weed without his knowledge and consent? Sprinkle it on his rajma-chaawal instead of kasoori methi?]

The flipside of this narrative is that our god-like raja betas appear to have no noticeable degree of agency, choice, sense, responsibility or self-control. It is a mystery why Indian men don’t find this insulting.

 

For millennia, Indian women have been designated as the ‘honour-keepers’ of patriarchy (i.e., keep your legs and mouths shut). Often it is women who normalize and enforce misogyny. Recently, some of these “princesses of patriarchy” are being styled as feminists. Ladies, you aren’t.

Feminists are not victims. They believe that all genders are equal, and every individual has a right to their own choices and opinions, without inflicting them on others. They disagree with a person without insulting them. They don’t judge or insult a woman because they don’t agree with her. They understand the concept of consent. They don’t use rape references except when discussing actual rape. They believe that a woman can be a home-maker or the CEO of a company, as long as it is HER choice. They don’t hate men, or women. They don’t have to be women.

 

So, no. You aren’t feminists. Not when you play the victim card, selectively outrage on behalf of some women but slut shame others, are self-confessed addicts but derogatorily call others ‘druggies’, make accusations but withhold ‘proof’, complain (rightly) about the abuse you receive but abuse others with abandon, have different standards for different people depending on your whims. You are high-priestesses of hypocrisy.

Here’s an example of how feminism works:

A prominent Bollywood male is the subject of recent #MeToo allegations. The timing of these is as suspect as the demolition of the illegal parts of an actor’s office (the tasteless and tone-deaf rape analogy that followed notwithstanding).

 

As a feminist, I say that every such charge should be investigated, and both sides heard equally. Also, if a charge is found to be trivial and baseless, there should be legal consequences for the accuser. Misusing and trivializing legal protections given to women (like dowry, domestic violence and sexual harassment laws) is an insult to the countless, voiceless women who truly need them, and to the women and men who have fought for centuries, often at huge personal risk, so that Indian women may enjoy a modicum of equality with their male counterparts.

 

True gender equality in India is still a long way away. So I urge the self-styled feminists to put their money where their mouths are, with objectivity, compassion, respect and non-partisanship, and help us achieve it. Otherwise India will continue to be no country for young women. And, given the recent, disgusting trolling of trail-blazing doyennes of Bollywood, no country for middle-aged or old women either.

The Indian ideal is Sati, not Kali. We forget that both, that all our devis, are avatars of the same supreme goddess.

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